BC’s Inland Rainforest – Conservation and Community
Legacy Biodiversity Completion in the Prince George Rare Interior Cedar-Hemlock Zone
Justin Calof 1
Since 1990 local communities, researchers and the environmental sector have been adamant over the need for spatial biodiversity planning in the Interior Cedar Hemlock (ICH) forests near Prince George. The global significance of the biodiversity resources in the area, specifically the old cedar forests, has been verified by a number of independent scientists and was highlighted by the Chief Forester during the second Timber Supply Review (TSR). Consistent with existing policy, Old Growth Management Areas (OGMA’s) in three landscape units were established in 2002 to address social pressures and biological risks.
In 2004 the “Order Establishing Landscape Biodiversity Objectives for the Prince George Timber Supply Area” (hereafter the ‘order’) was completed. Largely based on the work of Craig Delong, this order, to which the spatial reserves contribute, is the current policy tool for managing biodiversity in the area. It establishes non-spatial targets for old forest, old interior forest and patch size. However, this non-spatial approach may pose environmental and social risks in areas of high biodiversity value, as those areas may not be captured in a non-spatial framework. These risks were the subject of much debate during the establishment of the order, and were anticipated to be addressed through a spatial project.
Since 2004, independent study further indicates the significance of the biodiversity values in ICH forests and the risks that further resource development may constitute. In 2007, the Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) undertook a project to respond to these risks. Through a Biodiversity Assessment and Risk Analysis, planners at ILMB agreed with researchers who suggested that, within the ICH forest type, there are ecosystems that are very limited in spatial extent, in particular wet cedar sites in the northern extent of the zone (ICHvk2). Furthermore, that old growth management that does not include areas of advanced old growth structure on wet, rich Cedar leading sites may fail to maintain certain stand characteristics necessary to maintain ecosystem function in perpetuity. The risk analysis concluded that currently, only a small portion of old forests in the areas of highest biological value are in legally established spatial OGMA’s or parks, while the remaining high biological value old forests remain at risk from development.
Thus a project attempting to spatially identify rare portions of the zone and establish OGMA’s was initiated in coordination with researchers, government agencies, forest licensees, First Nations and public stakeholders. Although equivalent area of old forest is already constrained through the non-spatial order, this project will spatially identify areas of high biological value to further implement the orders provisions and actively respond to relevant science. This presentation will outline the objectives of the project, the methodology used to identify high value sites and subsequent OGMA’s, as well as discuss some of the institutional factors influencing land use, specifically biodiversity planning, in British Columbia today.
1 R.P.F., Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Integrated Land Management Bureau, Ste 200-1488-4th Av. Prince George, BC, V2L 4Y2. Email: Justin.Calof@gov.bc.ca
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